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Top 10 remarkable engineers of all time

Engineering is truly a noble profession, without it life would not exist as we know it. These 10 engineers are remarkable in the sense that they did not have any blueprints or guides to go by, but they set out to accomplish what had never been done before. All they had was their genius and passion for bettering humanity with their creations. Without them, we probably would not have had the many things we now take for granted.

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10. Alan Turing

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

Every time you use a computer, it is in part because Alan Turing made significant contributions to make computing possible. Alan Turing developed the binary architecture now used in all computers, as well as much of the theory behind computers.

He is regarded by some as the father of computer science. He is also credited with breaking the German Enigma code during WWII, which made victory possible. In the years following the war he made numerous contributions in software creation. Time magazine named him as one of the most important people of the 20th century.

9. Nicolaus Otto

Nicolaus Otto
Nicolaus Otto

Nicolaus Otto was a German inventor credited with developing the four-stroke or Otto-cycle engine which sparked the development of the motor care. His Otto-cycle engine worked in four steps; drawing in fuel and air, compressing the mixture, igniting it and expelling the exhaust. This Otto-cycle is still used in the internal combustion engines that run all of our cars today.

Despite having developed the engine, it was Otto’s peers such as Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz who made practical applications of the technology, forever changing how people move all over the world.

8. Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

Every electrical engineer should have a picture of Nikola tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Maybe not a tattoo but at least have a picture of him hanging in their office. Tesla’s inventions make him arguably the greatest electrical engineer of all time. His inventions include fluorescent lighting, the Tesla coil, the induction motor, and 3-phase electricity. He developed the AC-current generation system comprised of a motor and a transformer.

Tesla moved to America in 1884 to work with Thomas Edison, another remarkable engineer. Within weeks of working for Edison, he indicated that he could improve the efficiency of the company’s generators by 25%. Edison promised Tesla a $50,000 bonus if he achieved this feat. Within weeks Tesla delivered on his promise – and Edison reneged on his, telling young Tesla, “You don’t understand our American humor.”

7. Archimedes


It was Archimedes who came up with the simple yet clever idea of determining an object’s volume by measuring the amount of water displaced by the object. Other inventions credited to him include the catapult, levers and pulleys, and the Archimedean Screw, a device used to raise water for irrigation or mining.

According to some legends he was instrumental in defending his native Syracuse from Romans by his clever use of machines to keep enemies at siege. He also calculated an approximation for pi and developed many mathematical insights without which modern engineering would be impossible.

Eureka! – I have found it!
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.


6. James Watt

James Watt
James Watt

James Watt was an enthusiastic inventor whose improvement of the steam engine sparked the Industrial Revolution. During the 1760s he devoted most of his time to improving the efficiency of steam engines. The result was a machine that become very popular that Watt is sometimes mischaracterized as the inventor of the steam engine. Watt’s many mechanical advances earned him several patents, and his engines were used for coal mining, textile manufacturing, transportation and a host of other industrial uses.

The watt unit of power is named after James Watt. He is credited for measuring the power of his steam engine: his test with a strong horse resulted in his determination that a “horsepower” was 550 foot-pounds per second. Subsequent calculation by Watt resulted in one horsepower equaling 746 watts.

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  1. Yeah Tesla got ripped of by Edison and died poor in terrible conditions…how is that for an American Dream and doing business with American companies.

    “You don’t understand our American humor.”

    Edison…”let me show you this very funny invoice…where you get to match the number on the bottom with some green papers and pictures of dead presidents”

  2. I agree with Tomi on the point about inventors. Alan Turing? Great man, but he wasn’t an engineer.

    Even stating ‘engineers’ seems a bit generic. There are many facets of engineering and each has their own champions.

  3. I like the list very much, I understand that there are more capable engineers and inventors in the last time, but the list is about the top ten engineers of all time, without them the world wouldn’t be as we know right now.

    Thanks for the list.

  4. what about Josia Wedgewood and his pottery…. if it wasn’t for him there would be no breaks over a cup of tea or coffee when those light bulb moments happened!

  5. Oh please… your list includes several inventors, not engineers, and of modest achievements. You said ‘engineers’ and you left out the greatest engineer of all time – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – first to take man where life is not possible – built tunnel under water – first to build steam ship capable of cross the ocean under power ie ocean travel without nature’s wind – first to move man faster than nature – his trains achieved speeds of 60 miles per hour faster than Cheetah – he built longer bridge than anyone before him to the point his peers said such a bridge was impossible – he built the largest longest and most expensive construction up to that point in time, the Great Western Railway – then went onto build the largest man-made object ever, the ship Great Eastern that stood as the pinnacle for 50 years until larger ships like Titanic were finally made. Only engineer to master all areas of engineering, he went beyond the greatest constructions in every category of engineering that existed in the era of steam and iron, no engineer before or since has set records in every category of engineering – and his greatest achievement – his last ship was able to travel under power more than 10 times as far as anything had ever travelled before, literally to other side of planet under its own power – the 19th century equivalent to modern man going to the moon. Where is Isambard Kingdom Brunel on your list, the greatest engineer of all time. His ships achieved twice the top speed of previous ships. His trains achieved twice the speed of fastest trains before him. Thats like the same goy creating the Concorde and the bullet train in our times… IK Brunel, needs to be on your list. I’d say number 1.

    Thanks… Tomi Ahonen 🙂

  6. What about Dr. Wernher von Braun? Rocket physicist, astronautics engineer, and space architect — visionary of today’s space program.


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